Concert Imaginaire: Passionate Isolation
Passionate Isolation is the second album from Concert Imaginaire. It’s an intricate, varied, multi-faceted release. Since it’s intense you should, if you prefer to, listen to it little by little. The shortened presentation below emanates from David Hahn.
The title comes from the collection No More Secondhand God by R. Buckminster Fuller. It illuminates a mirror of our own troubled times. To the many isolated individuals in our world, it can appear that we are locked, as human beings, into the fate of a continuous cycle of abuse of power leading to armed conflict.
1. “IntroVerture II” (IntroVerture2) is a brief overture, i.e. an orchestral piece at the beginning of an opera, play etc. It starts with a high school jazz band warming-up and the recorded voices of David Hahn’s French friends Simone and Patrick. The piece ends with an excerpt from Do The Prepuce! recorded live in 2014 in Seattle.
2. “Sand Dune” is a vocal duet with the entire ensemble. The lyrics are derived from Samuel Beckett’s play Rockabye. The chorus features many jangly percussion instruments and ethereal voices.
3. “Passionate” Isolation is a suite of 3 movements. With reference to the author, it illuminates a mirror of our own troubled times. To the many isolated individuals in our world, it can appear that we are locked, as human beings, into the fate of a continuous cycle of abuse of power leading to armed conflict. “Passionate Isolation I – Ritual” is the first movement, denoting the ineffectiveness of international deliberations.
4. “Passionate Isolation II – Misgivings” represents the doubts of the world’s population in the face of impending war.
5. “Passionate Isolation III – March” stands for the inevitable and deliberate march of the military machine.
6. “GOGA” was written in the style of a 14th-century isorhythmic motet. The foundation of the piece is the tenor line which is based on the letters of Hahn’s wife’s nickname (the “O” is an octave above the open E string of a guitar). Each note repeats the same number of times that is equal to its place in the alphabet. For instance, the “G” repeats 7 times, the “O” 15 times, etc. The pattern is completed by a repetition of the above structure in retrograde. Consequently, this entire pattern is played three times, each time in a proportionally smaller mensuration. The first time 9/8, then 3/4, finally 6/8. This allows the tempo to gradually increase throughout the piece.
7. “Six” is a piece which has gone through several arrangements. This one is for piano trio (violin, piano, cello). The composition of the piece freely uses a technique called “set theory” to organize and extrapolate the six pitches which comprise its insistent motto.
8. “To the Children in Bars” is a setting of a poem I wrote many years ago for voice and guitar. The guitar accompaniment is a 9th-century Gregorian chant.
9. “Tautologies” is a chaconne for solo flute and electronic sound. A rhetorical term, tautology is the repetition of the same meaning using different words. In Tautologies, the opening four phrases on the flute – the building blocks for the entire piece – are repeated throughout in different ways yet using the same melodic material.
10. “Finale of Seemis” is taken from a poem about impermanence (by Wallace Steven). Originally, it’s an improvisation over a chord progression now it’s a flowing solo for violin, accompanied by guitar, bass, and piano.
11. “Aria Anum J” is the anagram title of this homage to a plant.
12. “Blasphemy” is a minimalist piece with four sections pairing piano with violin and guitar with marimba. In the fifth and final section, the pairings change.
13. “E/Gone” is a piece for two cellos and pre-recorded tape.
14. “Bishop” was originally a group improvisation over a slow-moving chord progression. I transformed it into a through-composed piece with imitative lines between the instruments. A slow melody on the piano cuts through the final morse code-like percussion at the end.
15. “Orango-Tango” is danced in concert. A couple dances a tango but is confronted by an orangutan who, in the boisterous middle section, cuts in and demands to dance himself. When the tango returns, the orangutan dances flawlessly with the woman.
16. “Tis of Thee” is a contemplative recitative for alto sax and guitar, written in memory of James Ryder, a musical colleague of Hahn’s from New England Conservatory.